DAVIS -- Gary May is easy going and soft spoken.
He's more like your next door neighbor than a noted computer engineering researcher who will head a UC campus with nearly 40,000 students.
He set his goals high.
"Making UCD one of the handful of universities or on the tip of your tongue when you think of the nation's top research universities," said UC Davis Chancellor Gary May.
May is well aware that his predecessor, embattled Chancellor Linda Katehi, resigned under a cloud of claims of nepotism, her paid positions on company boards that were deemed a conflict of interest and the infamous pepper spray incident for which she was perhaps unjustly blamed. He said none of that will affect his leadership.
"My nature is not to be defensive, my nature is to look forward and hopefully I will be able to turn the page and go on to a new era," May said.
He's already been a target of student protests for keeping paid board positions to the tune of $325,000, although unlike Katehi, the board of regents has said the companies he's paid by do not create a conflict of interest.
In fact, he says student protests are healthy and was a student protester as an undergraduate and while at graduate school at UC Berkeley. And he didn't rule out joining in again if the cause is just.
For all his talk about his vision and goals for the university, he fully admits that a third or more of his time will be devoted to fundraising, but he says he's fully equipped for that as well.
Through his outside board activities he's raised $49 million for Georgia Tech programs over the years. He's proud to be only the seventh chancellor at UC Davis and the first minority in the post.
"At the same time, I know I'm not going to be the chancellor of the black students and faculty, I'm going to be chancellor of the university," he said.
He says he's best at listening and building a consensus.
But he's also ready to take the heat that comes with the job.
"I've sort of loaded up on my skin thickening ointment, and I'll try not to be taking things personally when people have criticisms," he said.